Turkish Airlines has suspended its relationship with a U.S. travel rewards company which is owned by Booking Holdings, just days after it sent an email wishing its members a ‘Happy Pride Month’.
The LGBTQ+ themed email was sent by Rocketmiles, which runs an online platform allowing members of more than 50 loyalty programs to earn miles and points when they book a hotel room.
Rocketmiles was founded back in 2012 and counts big-name airlines such as United Airlines, Southwest and American Airlines, as well as popular household brands, including Amazon.com, among its program partners. The company was bought by Booking Holdings just three years later.
At the start of June, widely recognised as ‘Pride Month’, Rocketmiles sent a generic email to its members wishing them a ‘Happy Pride Month’ along with a photo of a person holding up a rainbow flag.
The email included the Rocketmiles logo, as well as the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles loyalty club logo prominently placed at the top of the email.
Shortly after sending the email, Rocketmiles sent members a follow-up email, saying the communication was actually “intended for a different part of our customer base”.
“We’d like to apologize for our last communication,” the email read without explaining any further information.
Days later, Turkish Airlines unexpectedly pulled its Miles&Smiles partnership with Rocketmiles. Neither Turkish Airlines nor Rocketmiles have been able to explain why the partnership has been axed.
Rocketmiles said in an email that the partnership has been “temporarily suspended, and as of the moment there’s is no specific turn around time as when it will be fixed”.
The press teams for Booking Holdings and Turkish Airlines have been contacted for comment.
It is not illegal to be gay in Türkiye, but gay marriage isn’t recognised, and there are fears that LGBTQ+ rights could be eroded under the recently reelected Erdogan regime. Unlike many airlines, which are based in countries where homosexuality is legal, Turkish Airlines is not celebrating Pride Month.
Hat tip to @starflyergold on Twitter.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.